2014 Year in Review
2014 saw the successful completion of several key projects I’ve worked on for many years and it was exciting to see some positive results for the City of Calgary. Below are a few highlights:
ATCO—Consumer protection for natural gas rates
In 2010, as Chair of Gas, Power and Telecommunications Committee we initiated investigations that will result in a rebate to Alberta consumers, possibly in the range of tens of millions of dollars.
The Alberta Utility Commission has ruled in the City’s favour on a complaint we launched against ATCO Group. The City argued, under the Electric Utilities Act, that ATCO Group was in violation of The Act because it contracted out its service to its own subsidiary, ATCO ITEK, to deliver customer care and billing, and therefore could not be considered a competing company in the marketplace.
In 2014, I attended a hearing where Calgary submitted its evidence in front of the Alberta Utilities Commission. Based on submissions from Calgary and the Utility Consumer Advocate, the Commission considered it reasonable that consumers be reimbursed on fees dating back to 2010.
Currently, ATCO Group is appealing the amount of the rebate.
Trying to stabilize electricity rates
Another focus for me as Chair of Gas, Power and Telecommunications Committee for the past five years has been the instability of the electricity rates. I have made numerous recommendations to the Alberta Government for new regulations to stabilize electricity prices. Some of the recommendations to the Retail Market Review Committee have been adopted to review:
- Establish the Utility Consumer Advocate as an arms-length agency, independent and able to submit evidence to the courts.
- Reassess long-term contracts rather than short-term contracts to help ease the volatility in the market.
- Have the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) continue to maintain the default rate to protect and guarantee service for vulnerable consumers. The AUC was going to recommend eliminating the Regulated Rate Option, however they have reversed that decision as I had recommended.
Natural Gas Buses
In January of 2012, I introduced a Notice of Motion 2011-38, directing Administration to develop a business case for the adoption of Natural Gas transit vehicles to achieve fuel cost savings and lower environmental impact.
In March of 2013, Calgary Transit launched a pilot project incorporating four Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicles into the transit bus fleet.
With the 2015-2018 budget, Council approved funding for 200 new CNG buses.
A Look Ahead to 2015
Reassess our budget
In 2014, Council approved its first four-year budget. The recent economic downturn will mean a financial impact for the City. This potential impact will require Council to reassess our budget and evaluate the impact that lower oil prices will have on our future capital and operating budget.
Dealing with illegal Secondary Suites
In November of 2014, I introduced Notice of Motion 2014-42 Secondary Suite Implementation Initiative to try and find solutions to deal with thousands of illegal suites that currently exist in Calgary. My ideas were referred to a working group of three council members as of January 2015.
Since some of Ward 10’s communities have some of the lowest home ownership, I do not want to see Ward 10 communities negatively impacted by any changes to the land-use bylaw that could further reduce the number of owner occupied homes.
I plan on working on a sub-committee of Council to work on bringing illegal suites into compliance and assessing the need based on supply.
I heart Community Associations
Community Associations are the heart of many communities, but that heart sometimes struggles to keep beating due to the lack of volunteers. I’ve always been a supporter of community associations and so has the City of Calgary through grants and the hard work of City staff; however, volunteers are still needed. I would encourage you to contact your community association and get involved.
I will continue to work with community associations to help bring about more community participation through different programs and services at a subsidized rate to increase participation in Ward 10’s communities.
This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.